Current Affair – Feb 18, 2021

Transit remand, bail explained: Legal provisions invoked in Greta ‘toolkit’ case

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted transit anticipatory bail to Shantanu Muluk in the Greta Thunberg toolkit case registered by the Delhi Police. The transit anticipatory bail has also been granted to Muluk.

What does the law say about the arrest of a person?
  • Article 22 of the Constitution: Every person who is “arrested and detained in custody” has to be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of 24 hours of the arrest, the period excludes the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the court. No person can be kept in custody beyond the period of 24 hours without an order of a magistrate.
  • Section 56 of the CrPC: The person arrested has to be taken before the magistrate without unnecessary delay.
  • Section 167 (2) of CrPC: When the Magistrate before whom the accused person has been produced does not have the jurisdiction to try the case or commit it for trial, the judicial officer is required to forward the accused to a Magistrate having such jurisdiction.
When does a person apply for anticipatory transit bail?
  • When a person is apprehending arrest by the police of a state other than where they are at present, they approach the nearest competent court for a transit anticipatory or pre-arrest bail. The court does not have jurisdiction over the place where the case is registered or where crime has been alleged to have been committed but since the question of personal liberty is involved, the High Courts across India generally allow such prayer depending upon the merits of the case.
  • The relief is sought to seek temporary protection from arrest and simultaneously get time to approach the appropriate court of that place, wherefrom the police has come or where the case is registered.
What is transit remand and when is it required?
  • Since the arrested person is required under the law to be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, they are produced by the police of the other state – which has registered the case – before the nearest magistrate of the place from where the person has been arrested to get a transit remand. This is done to comply with the provisions of law regarding the production of the accused before a magistrate within 24 hours since it may not be otherwise possible due to travel from one state to another.
  • The application is filed by the police which has come to arrest the accused, before the nearest magistrate of that area where the accused is at present or residing.
  • Delhi High Court in Gautam Navlakha vs State (NCT of Delhi) in 2018 held that “the Magistrate examining the transit remand application is not required to go into the adequacy of the material, he should nevertheless satisfy himself about the existence of the material”. It also held that the Magistrate should ask the person arrested and brought before him whether he has been informed of the grounds of arrest and whether he was required to consult and be defended by any legal practitioner of his choice.
  • The apex court last year said the Delhi HC judgment shall not be treated as precedent and ordered that the questions of law are kept open. However, the apex court in different judgments has also held and reiterated that a Magistrate should not pass an order of remand automatically or in a mechanical manner.

Source – Downtoearth

Money Bills

Context: Congress has written to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, urging him not to bypass the Rajya Sabha by declaring seven key Bills.


Article 110 of the Constitution deals with the definition of Money Bills. It states that a bill is deemed to be a money bill if it contains only’ provisions dealing with all or any of the following matters:

  • The imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax;
  • The regulation of the borrowing of money by the Union government;
  • The custody of the Consolidated Fund of India or the contingency fund of India, the payment of moneys into or the withdrawal of money from any such fund;
  • The appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India;
  • Declaration of any expenditure charged on the Consolidated Fund of India or increasing the amount of any such expenditure;
  • The receipt of money on account of the Consolidated Fund of India or the public account of India or the custody or issue of such money, or the audit of the accounts of the Union or of a state
  • Any matter incidental to any of the matters specified above.
Features of a money bill:
  • Speaker decides whether a bill is a money bill or not.
  • They can be introduced only in Lok Sabha.
  • President’s recommendation is needed to introduce them.
  • President can either accept or reject a money bill but cannot return it for reconsideration.
  • The Rajya Sabha has limited powers to legislate on a money Bill. It cannot be rejected by the Rajya Sabha.
  • The Lok Sabha is free to accept or reject amendments made by the Rajya Sabha on a money Bill.
Seven Bills
  • Privatisation of two public sector banks
  • Replacing University Grants Commission with Higher Education Commission
  • Amendments to the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act
  • Setting up of a Development Finance Institution
  • Introduction of a securities markets code that will merge all market regulatory laws
  • Amendments to the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act
  • Amendments to pave way for the initial public offering of LIC

Source – The Hindu

Hydrogen fuel

India has announced a National Hydrogen Mission that will draw up a roadmap for using hydrogen as an energy source. The initiative has the potential of transforming transportation.

Hydrogen and its types
  • Hydrogen is the most common element in nature
  • It is not found freely. It exists only combined with other elements, and has to be extracted from naturally occurring compounds like water.
  • Although hydrogen is a clean molecule, the process of extracting it is energy-intensive.

After the oil price shocks of the 1970s, the possibility of hydrogen replacing fossil fuels came to be considered seriously. Three carmakers — Japan’s Honda and Toyota, and South Korea’s Hyundai

– have since moved decisively in the direction of commercializing the technology, albeit on limited scale.

The sources and processes by which hydrogen is derived, are categorised by colour tabs.
  • Grey hydrogen: Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is; this constitutes the bulk of the hydrogen produced today.
  • Blue hydrogen: Hydrogen generated from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage options
  • Green Hydrogen: hydrogen generated entirely from renewable power sources. In this, the electricity generated from renewable energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
The case for green hydrogen
  • It is a clean-burning molecule, which can decarbonise a range of sectors including iron and steel, chemicals, and transportation.
  • Renewable energy that cannot be stored or used by the grid can be channeled to produce hydrogen.
Significance of Government’s Hydrogen Energy Mission, to be launched in 2021-22:
  • India’s electricity grid is predominantly coal-based and will continue to be so, thus negating collateral benefits from a large-scale EV push — as coal will have to be burnt to generate the electricity that will power these vehicles.
  • In several countries that have gone in for an EV push, much of the electricity is generated from renewables — in Norway for example, it is 99 percent from hydroelectric power.
  • Experts believe hydrogen vehicles can be especially effective in long-haul trucking and other hard-to-electrify sectors such as shipping and long-haul air travel. Using heavy batteries in these applications would be counterproductive, especially for countries such as India, where the electricity grid is predominantly coal-fired.
How hydrogen fuel cells work?
  • Hydrogen is an energy carrier, not a source of energy. Hydrogen fuel must be transformed into electricity by a device called a fuel cell stack before it can be used to power a car or truck.
  • A fuel cell converts chemical energy into electrical energy using oxidising agents through an oxidation-reduction reaction. Fuel cell-based vehicles most commonly combine hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity to power the electric motor on board. Since fuel cell vehicles use electricity to run, they are considered electric vehicles.
  • Inside each individual fuel cell, hydrogen is drawn from an onboard pressurized tank and made to react with a catalyst, usually made from platinum. As the hydrogen passes through the catalyst, it is stripped of its electrons, which are forced to move along an external circuit, producing an electrical current. This current is used by the electric motor to power the vehicle, with the only byproduct being water vapour.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell cars have a near-zero carbon footprint. Hydrogen is about two to three times as efficient as burning petrol because an electric chemical reaction is much more efficient than combustion.
  • Lack of fuelling station infrastructure: Fuel cell cars refuel in a similar way to conventional cars, but can’t use the same station. There are fewer than 500 operational hydrogen stations in the world today, mostly in Europe, followed by Japan and South Korea. There are some in North America.
  • Safety is seen as a concern. Hydrogen is pressurised and stored in a cryogenic tank, from there it is fed to a lower-pressure cell and put through an electro-chemical reaction to generate electricity. Hyundai and Toyota say safety and reliability of hydrogen fuel tanks is similar to that of standard CNG engines.
  • Scaling up the technology and achieving critical mass remains the big challenge. More vehicles on the road and more supporting infrastructure can lower costs. India’s proposed mission is seen as a step in that direction.

Source – Indian Express

Mars Missions

  • Going to Mars is non-trivial, since both planets revolve around the Sun and are hence in constant motion relative to each other. Earth and Mars are at their closest distance relative to each other every 26 months and this is when Earthlings try to send missions to Mars.
  • Every two years since the 1960s, different space agencies have sent missions to Mars. Between 1976 and 1992, many launch windows remained unutilised.
  • There are currently 10 spacecraft from five different space agencies — the United States, European Union, India, China, and the United Arab Emirates. Two more rovers — NASA’s Perseverance and China’s Tianwen-1, are set to land on Mars on February 18 and in May 2021 respectively.
  • The flotilla of missions is attributable to a reduction in launch costs and the cheaper availability of the technology required in space exploration.
The UAE’s mission of Hope
  • Two out of the three missions launched for Mars last July are already operational. The UAE became the fifth national space agency (after the US, EU, Russia, and India) to reach Mars when the Hope Orbiter underwent orbital insertion on February 9. The UAE beat out China in the race for Mars, albeit by a day.
  • It will study the Martian atmosphere and address the question of how and why Mars lost its atmosphere. The loss of the atmosphere resulted in the loss of surface water, and possibly the environment hospitable to life.
    • ·NASA has a lander (Mars Insight), a rover (Curiosity), and three orbiters (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey, MAVEN)
    • India has an orbiter (Mangalyaan-1)
    • EU has 2 orbiters (Mars Express and ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter)
    • China Tianwen-1 carries an orbiter, a lander, and a rover
    • UAE Hope will have an orbiter.
The Chinese experiment

The Chinese National Space Agency arrived at Mars with lessons learned from a successful string of Chang’e missions to the Moon. The Chang’e 5 mission was able to successfully bring back rock samples to Earth in December 2020.

  • Tianwen-1, the first mission to Mars from China, successfully underwent orbital insertion on February 10. Unlike NASA rovers, Tianwen-1 will orbit Mars for a few months before attempting to land in May this year.
  • It has a ground penetrating radar instrument to look for water under the Martian surface. The rover is scheduled to land at Utopia Planitia, a location with possible ancient groundwater deposits.
  • The most sophisticated mission from an engineering standpoint, NASA’s Perseverance Rover is set to land on Thursday at Jezero Crater, which was likely filled with water in the past.
  • Perseverance is NASA’s 4th generation Mars Rover —starting with Sojourner from the Mars Pathfinder Mission in 1997, followed by Spirit and Opportunity from the Mars Exploration Rover Mission in 2004, and Curiosity from the Mars Science Laboratory in 2012.
  • The goal is to look for biosignatures in the dried up lake bed at Jezero Crater. The thought is that early life on Mars may have resembled early ocean-dwelling life on Earth, like stromatolites. If indeed this was the case, Perseverance would find fossils or some biosignatures.
  • In addition, Perseverance will produce oxygen on the Martian surface for the first time, using atmospheric CO2 from the Martian atmosphere. Perseverance will cache rock samples that will be returned to Earth by a subsequent European Space Agency/NASA mission.
Musk’s Starship enterprise
  • SpaceX, a private US-based company promoted by Elon Musk and backed by select investors, has a long-range goal of starting a commercial service to transport passengers to Mars.
  • Boca Chica is the site of development of Starship, which represents arguably the best shot at landing humans on Mars.
  • In comparison to the Moon, which is only about three days away, Mars is seven months away. Carrying humans, in engineering terms, translates to maintaining a temperature controlled pressurized module. It also entails carrying supplies required by astronauts, including water and oxygen, for an approximately 18-month trip.
  • In addition, human missions, unlike robotic spacecraft missions, need to be returned to Earth, which translates into carrying an enormous amount of fuel from Earth.
  • The engineering complexity and the increased mass requirement of a human mission to Mars, compared to the Moon, pushes costs to between $250 billion and $1 trillion.
  • Starship promises to reduce mission costs by >95% to as much as 99% by using multiple innovations like refueling the spacecraft in orbit, and manufacture of rocket fuel on Mars using materials that are found on Mars
A decade of Mars missions

As the decade starts up, multiple missions are on the drawing board:

  • the ESA ExoMars rover mission to return rock samples from Mars
  • ISRO’s plans for Mangalyaan-2
  • Chinese Space Agency’s plans for Tianwen-2 that will return rock samples from Mars.
  • Likely multiple flights of SpaceX’s Starship, first with cargo and finally with astronauts.

In the history of humankind, 2020 will be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic, but the 2020s may well be the decade of a flurry of spacecraft missions to Mars, ending with the first human footsteps on Martian soil.

Source – Indian Express

Uranium deposits found at 2 Himachal Pradesh sites

The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has confirmed that small deposits” of uranium were found at Kasha Kaladi in Shimla and Tileli in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.

  • While Kasha Kaladi has an estimated 200 tonnes of triuranium octoxide, which is enough to produce 170 tonnes of uranium, Tileli has 220 tonnes of triuranium octoxide (186 tonnes of uranium). The largest deposit in the state (364 tonnes of triuranium octoxide) is at Rajpura in Una district.
  • The size of the find has put Himachal Pradesh at the 10th position among 11 states in the country where uranium has been traced. Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Meghalaya occupy the top three positions, respectively.

Uranium Corporation of India Limited has come up with a plan to meet the target of attaining self-sufficiency in uranium production by 2031-32. It includes maintaining supply from existing facilities, increasing capacity of existing mines and exploring new locations.

Source – The Tribune

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